Helping the mother help the child
Bring the mother and her child together to talk about their experiences. This should only be done when safety has been established for both mother and child.
Help her and the child:
- see how the mother makes attempts to act protectively
- appreciate each other and the support they can offer one another
- acknowledge when the child has tried to protect the mother.
Talk to her about what to expect
Be up front about what a mother may expect. Once safety has been established, a child may feel a new sense of confidence that changes their behaviour. Or they may attempt to test new limits.
It is a confusing time for many children, potentially filled with grief, loss and mixed emotions. Equip mothers with the knowledge and tools to prepare for what may happen.
Children may start acting up
Some children’s behaviour gets worse after they become safe. This could be because they were too fearful to misbehave before or because they have taken on some of the attributes of the violent man. When a child sees their mother attacked and undermined, they get a clear message that they don’t need to listen to her or respect her authority.
Children may have mixed feelings about their father
Her child may have mixed feelings about living apart from their father. Although they may like feeling safer at home, they may grieve the loss of the things that they enjoyed. They may also notice the impact of the change in financial circumstances.
Some fathers use child contact as way to harass
Some fathers who use violence will continue to use contact with the child as a way of intimidating and harassing mothers. If a woman is aware of this, they are more likely to be able to develop strategies to keep themselves and their child safe around contact times.
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